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Does stakeholder pressure influence corporate GHG emissions reporting? Empirical evidence from Europe

Liesen, A., Hoepner, A. G., Patten, D. M. and Figge, F. (2015) Does stakeholder pressure influence corporate GHG emissions reporting? Empirical evidence from Europe. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 28 (7). pp. 1047-1074. ISSN 0951-3574

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1108/AAAJ-12-2013-1547


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to seek to shed light on the practice of incomplete corporate disclosure of quantitative Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and investigates whether external stakeholder pressure influences the existence, and separately, the completeness of voluntary GHG emissions disclosures by 431 European companies. Design/methodology/approach – A classification of reporting completeness is developed with respect to the scope, type and reporting boundary of GHG emissions based on the guidelines of the GHG Protocol, Global Reporting Initiative and the Carbon Disclosure Project. Logistic regression analysis is applied to examine whether proxies for exposure to climate change concerns from different stakeholder groups influence the existence and/or completeness of quantitative GHG emissions disclosure. Findings – From 2005 to 2009, on average only 15 percent of companies that disclose GHG emissions report them in a manner that the authors consider complete. Results of regression analyses suggest that external stakeholder pressure is a determinant of the existence but not the completeness of emissions disclosure. Findings are consistent with stakeholder theory arguments that companies respond to external stakeholder pressure to report GHG emissions, but also with legitimacy theory claims that firms can use carbon disclosure, in this case the incomplete reporting of emissions, as a symbolic act to address legitimacy exposures. Practical implications – Bringing corporate GHG emissions disclosure in line with recommended guidelines will require either more direct stakeholder pressure or, perhaps, a mandated disclosure regime. In the meantime, users of the data will need to carefully consider the relevance of the reported data and develop the necessary competencies to detect and control for its incompleteness. A more troubling concern is that stakeholders may instead grow to accept less than complete disclosure. Originality/value – The paper represents the first large-scale empirical study into the completeness of companies’ disclosure of quantitative GHG emissions and is the first to analyze these disclosures in the context of stakeholder pressure and its relation to legitimation.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > ICMA Centre
ID Code:58172


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